Jamaica’s Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley today vowed to improve drugs testing procedures following a visit to the Caribbean island by inspectors from the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
The two-day audit by WADA officials came after a spate of failed drugs tests by eight Jamaican athletes in the past year.These included former world 100 metres record holder Asafa Powell, triple Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and the London 2012 silver medalist Sherone Simpson.
It followed claims by Renee Anne Shirley, former director of the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), that out-of-competition testing were insufficient ahead of the 2012 Olympics, where Jamaican athletes won 12 medals, including four gold.
There had also been controversy over the timing of the WADA visit which was initially going to be delayed until next year.
But Neita-Headley was pleased with how the visit had gone and is confident the necessary improvements will be made.
“I am pleased to confirm that the three-member WADA team visited Jamaica and engaged in constructive meetings with JADCO over the past two days,” she said.
“They had very fruitful discussions with our team and have committed to working in closer partnership with JADCO to make it not only world class but also the best in the class.
“There is no doubt that we have done some things well but, like with all other growing organisations, JADCO is only five years young and there are areas that we are seeking to improve.”
Neita-Headley also played down claims Jamaican authorities had been “non-compliant” in arranging the visit.
She also revealed JADCO is increasing staff numbers, with nine new posts likely to be filled by the end of the year, in addition to the newly appointed executive director Carey Brown earlier this month.
Officials from WADA have not commented on the visit to Jamaica so far.
Their audit is not expected to be made public until the WADA World Conference on Doping in Sport, due to take place in Johannesburg next month.
It is thought that WADA officials are similarly displeased with Kenya following failed improvements with their respective anti-doping programme and that they could be the next to receive a visit.
It appears very unlikely at this stage, however, that athletes from any country will be suspended from competitions due to these failures.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.